Since it’s “Getting to Know You Week” for Blaugust, and I don’t have anything else to talk about (well, I do, but all my screenshots are on my PC at home), I figured I’d do a little bit of that ‘letting strangers in the internet know details about your life’ thing. Also, Belghast did it today, so I will too. Mostly of course it will be about gaming (certainly because it’s topical to the blog, and not because that’s what most of my life revolves around – that’d be silly and sad, r-right?), but some actual life facts might get in there too.
I grew up in a small SoCal town (for real, there are small towns in SoCal; though I guess that is relative). Both of my parents were nerds, so it’s only natural that I grew up to be one, too. My dad liked to be on the cutting edge of tech, at least so much as he could afford (which, later on, wasn’t much), so we had a PC that could play games, even in the 80’s. I vaguely remember having some tank game on one of those green-and-black screens. He had the Star Wars tape set, when that came out, and almost the full collection of Star Trek TOS tapes as well (I think the only one that was missing was the one with “The Turnabout Intruder” on it, so I never watched the whole series until a few years ago). I grew up watching TNG as a baby, then on; Star Trek and Star Wars was basically in my mothers milk.
Unfortunately, when it came to gaming, my mother was more…traditional. We not only didn’t get consoles ourselves, but they weren’t even allowed in the house. (I remember one time my friend came over to spend the night; he brought a little TV and his SNES. When my mom found out the next morning, she flipped.) In middle school, when Pokemon was big, my friend let me borrow one of his GBC’s, so I could play whichever of the games he wasn’t playing at the time; I had to hide this, only playing at night or when my mom wasn’t paying attention. My first console was actually a N64, after I started college in 2004 or ’05; my mom wasn’t happy even then, but she couldn’t do anything about it.
Also, as stated, my dad was into tech and games, and mom wasn’t going to interfere in that. So I grew up with PC gaming at home. I distinctly remember the 20 or so 3.5″ floppies that were needed to install X-Wing. When Tie Fighter came out, we had a CD player, so it wasn’t quite as crazy. We had a “kid’s computer” which had those edutational games that were big in the mid-90’s.
I was also able to play games with my friends. One very close friend in particular was my gateway into console gaming (he’s the one I mentioned above), particularly of the Nintendo variety. He’s was one of the first in the school to get a N64. His family had several Game Boy’s, and I was able to play on those too. I have very fond memories playing together with him, particularly of Perfect Dark (I always liked how we could team up against bots, instead of just competing directly like with Goldeneye).
In middle school I started getting into TGC’s. Pokemon had come out, and like in many places it was the hit on the playground (or, in my case, the history classroom, where all the nerds hung out to play games and whatever). I didn’t have much money, but still got to play some: in a weird inversion, my friend wasn’t allowed to have Pokemon cards, but he was allowed to have money to buy them; so all the cards were “mine,” and I built the decks and housed the cards. Magic: The Gathering had been gaining a bit of popularity at school before Pokemon became big, but the mons totally replaced them. Until one day Pokemon was banned at school – too many kids crying about stolen cards (middle school is the worst). Then MTG came back into the fore, and I had the same arrangement with my friend about the cards here, which extended well into high school.
When my family got DSL when I was in high school, whole new worlds opened up to me. Finally I was able to download things with any sort of speed and reliability; and what else to download was there besides emulators? I finally got to play those SNES and arcade games that I wasn’t able to as a youngster; A Link to the Past and Earthbound were some of my favorites. I wasn’t able at that time to dedicate myself to any of the strange new games that required internet all the time, and a monthly sub, like Everquest, though I did hear about that at school from some of my richer gamer friends.
When I graduated high school, my uncle gave me his old laptop; this was my first computer that I owned myself. Of course, this was a used laptop, in 2004, so I wasn’t going to play many games on it. Oh, and it was probably of 1996 vintage or so. It wouldn’t even read CD-R’s, so the only games I could play on it were Win95 cd’s that I still had, and the few emulated games that would fit on a 3.5″ floppy.
Later my freshman year I got a computer from my parents, that $400 eMachines POS that I mentioned a few days ago. But it was a PC, and it was mine. (It was also my first foray into PC components – the hard drive died within a few months, and I had to figure out how to fix all that.) It wasn’t much, with its 2004 onboard video, but it was enough to play Freelancer, which was my main game for quite a while. I got quite into modding the game, and even joined the mod team for one of them (I sadly don’t even remember the mod or the server). I learned rudimentary 3d modeling, but never could figure out texture mapping. I’d say Freelancer multiplayer mod servers were my first taste in that sort of persistent, large, multiplayer games, and sort of prepared my mind for the idea of MMO’s.
I could also run Half Life and Call of Duty, which filled up a lot of the rest of my gaming time. Playing CoD in multiplayer, with all the botters and hackers, as my first real online competitive multiplayer experience, was kinda a shock. I learned I really sucked at video games. I mostly gave up on that kind of game then, or at least the multiplayer stuff.
I think my first real MMO was Mabinogi. I got into anime in college, and Mabinogi’s art and gameplay really appealed to me – as did the ‘free’ part. The rest of it though…didn’t. I hate grinding. And Mabinogi is a prime example of the Korean Grinding Game. I stayed with the game for a lot longer than I should have, because of the art. I didn’t even get into the social aspect of the game – I just wanted to play dress-up with my anime girl doll, but the grind required to get the good stuff was quite the turn-off.
Over time and money and jobs, I got more consoles. First a PS2 and Gamecube (after the PS3 came out), and got into many of the classics there. At one point I was just buying whatever anime-styled game was in the Used section at Gamestop, as long as it looked even slightly appealing gameplay-wise. (Turns out boxes are not the best way to judge this – I have quite a few 1/4-1/2-finished games from this era in my life.). Found a few favorites this way, though – discovered the Atelier series, and the Persona series.
In 2012 Star Trek Online went F2P; I was on that like a fish on whatever fishes get on. I had heard before that STO was a bit of a bad game; but news of improvements over the course of the game, as well as the whole ‘free’ thing, and my thirst for anything even remotely good in Star Trek (Trek novels being ‘rubbish’ on average), I joined up. And I was hooked. The space combat was like a fun version of Starfleet Command, and the ground wasn’t too bad with its TPS mechanics (or so I thought at the time – they were actually trash, since the enemies act like tab-targeting MMO enemies, not shooter enemies). Eventually I bought a sub – a first for me – and then a lifetime sub many months later. It was an almost daily game for years.
The two biggest influences in my gaming life are Steam and 4chan. Steam got me with all the deals. 4chan is basically my review system: knowing just how much /v/ says something sucks gives me a good indication on whether I will like a game or not. I wouldn’t have gotten into gacha games without 4chan either – not that they were shilled, quite the opposite in fact – but because I could see art and gameplay and such. And it gives a sort of community for many games that is more honest about the flaws of a thing, more than say reddit or discord. (Also, I greatly value anonymity – hard to get a big head when no one knows or remembers who said what, which greatly reduces drama and groupthink.)
Now here I am, writing about games. This isn’t my first blogging rodeo – at one point I put together an in-character Skyrim journal of sorts, but it killed any enthusiasm for the game (I couldn’t blog as fast as I played, and I was taking notes more than actually playing). It’s nice to have a sort of community of fellow bloggers – even if I don’t interact with them on any real level, it’s nice to know someone else is there. And it’s gotten me to try a couple new games, and to really think on them.